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McCarthy steps aside

From staff and electronic reports
All rights reserved.

East Carolina basketball coach Mack McCarthy headed off speculation about his job status by announcing Saturday night that he will leave his position after the Conference USA Tournament and accept an assignment that will keep him involved with ECU hoops.

McCarthy, 57, said after the Pirates' 75-65 home loss to Southern Miss that he will remain at the helm through the league tourney and then take on a role within the athletic department aimed at helping ECU bring to reality an on-campus basketball practice center.

"Over a period of time, (ECU AD) Terry Holland and I have discussed a change in my role at ECU related to the basketball program and Pirate athletics in general," McCarthy said. "Although it is never easy to give up something you love doing as much as I love coaching, it is the right time for me to take advantage of this exciting and challenging opportunity.

"Initially, my main focus will be on the planning and fundraising for a much-needed practice facility."

Holland, who is expected to move quickly to hire a new head coach, indicated that the move is not based on a sudden decision.

"... (T)he candid conversations that Coach McCarthy and I have had over the last few weeks have allowed me to begin thinking about the search process for finding a new coach," stated Holland.

Holland expressed his confidence that McCarthy will make important contributions to the program in his new capacity.

"My goal as the AD is to help get our personnel into positions that allow them to be the most effective individually so that the athletic department team can collectively be the most successful as possible," Holland stated. "Coach Mack will be terrific in this new role and our overall program will benefit greatly when this practice facility becomes available for use by our student-athletes and coaches."

McCarthy has compiled a 34-56 mark since being elevated from associate head coach to acting head coach on the eve of the 2007-08 season when he succeeded Ricky Stokes. McCarthy was subsequently named head coach at the end of that season.

Among the program's milestone accomplishments during McCarthy's tenure was East Carolina's 75-69 win over North Carolina State on Dec. 8, 2007. It was the Wolfpack's first visit to the Pirates' home court and marked ECU's first-ever basketball victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference foe.

McCarthy, a Virginia Tech alum, has built an overall record of 342-233 during 19 seasons as a head coach. Along the way, he secured 14 winning campaigns, eight 20-win seasons and five NCAA Tournament bids.

He coached at Tennessee-Chattanooga from 1985-1997 and guided Virginia Commonwealth from 1998-2002. His 1996-97 UTC team reached the Sweet Sixteen.

McCarthy will lead the 10th-seeded Pirates against No. 7 seed Houston on Wednesday in the first round of the conference tournament at the BOK Center in Tulsa. If ECU springs the upset, it will run head-on into No. 2 seed Memphis on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

With their loss to Southern Miss on Saturday night, the Pirates concluded the regular season 10-20 overall and 4-12 in the league.

According to an ECU Athletics release, McCarthy has three years remaining on a five-year contract.

03/07/2010 08:24:59 AM


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